We’ve only seen a handful of TV ads in the presidential race, and so far they’ve focused mainly on the candidates’ background and campaign message (plus one tremendously effective Benghazi counterattack). Marco Rubio is trying a different strategy. In his first TV spot, which will air on cable networks nationwide, Rubio tries to further terrify voters by reminding them, “What happened in Paris could happen here. There is no middle ground.”
It’s a less professorial version of the “clash of civilizations” response Rubio posted just after the attack, in which, as New York’s Jonathan Chait wrote, “Rubio plays it a bit coy, repeatedly describing the conflict as ‘them’ and ‘us,’ without specifying who is them and who is us.” Similarly, in the new ad, the Florida senator describes a clash between “radical Islamic terror” and those who support the “values of freedom and liberty.” Does that last bit refer to Americans of any religion? Yes. Could certain elements in the Republican base interpret the ad as frank talk from Rubio on the conflict between Islam and Christianity? Hey man, you said it, not him!